Thursday, July 16, 2009

County Commission Penny-wise, Pound-foolish

Apparently, you can sell any wacky idea to Livingston County Commissioners if you tell them it will save money.

That's how a former county employee apparently put herself in position to steal thousands of dollars from the taxpayers, right under the noses of our county commissioners.

Julie Wyland Crouse was in charge of the county's medical benefits program, which meant she took in employees' benefits forms and claims and sent them to payroll for payment.

The county previously had paid an outside company to oversee the reimbursements, but, according to the Livingston Press and Argus story in editions for Thursday (July 16, 2009,) "Crouse convinced county officials that using Marwil was 'wasting money,' Gadsby said. As a result, county officials discontinued Farmington Hills-based Marwil's service effective July 1, 2005, leaving Crouse the sole person responsible for determining whether employees' were receiving the correct reimbursement, the detective said."

So, according to charges filed against her, Crouse proceeded to embezzle taxpayers' money. The Livingston County Prosecutor's Office has charged her with two counts of embezzling at least $1,000 but less than $20,000 from the county.

In other words, no one was watching what Crouse was doing. That's a violation of fundamental rules of accounting requiring checks and balances. County officials should have known better. But Crouse apparently spoke the magic words, "It'll save money," and commissioners stupidly fell for it.

1 comment:

kevins said...

Wow. Do you stay up late at night trying to find ways to criticize Republicans? Or is it just that you feel that any taxpayer expense is justified?

I'm not at all in favor of embezzling and she should be prosecuted if guilty. So don't try to twist my words.

But if your concern is strictly finance (penny-wise and pound-foolish), how do you know this cost the county money?

It's possible that the amount she is accused of embezzling is less than the amount the county was paying for outside supervision...even more so if you add the annual cost savings.

If she was cheating, she got caught. She'll face criminal prosecution, possible jail time and perhaps have to pay the money back. If the county fails to change its oversight procedures, then it is due some harsh criticism. Otherwise, I'm happy with the county looking at ways to save money. Why does it bother you so when someone tries to reduce the spending of tax dollars?

By the way, this week the paper also reported that a Brighton PTO officer embezzled more than $24,000 from Brighton schools. Brighton schools spend far more money than they take it. They are every bit as much a deficit district as it Detroit. Their board decisions are driven by Democrats who keep throwing more money at the problem. Yet they also got hit with an embezzlement. Where is your criticism on this issue?

Brighton schools also had to eat a playground cost at another elementary school. So despite spending more than $60 million a year on its budget, Brighton schools seem to be at least as lax at financial management as you accuse the county board of being.

You don't want to look at facts. You just want to spin stories as criticism of Republicans. Your position seems to be: If you can spend more tax dollars, then you should.

That's not a position I agree with.